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Publisher's Foreword To The First Edition

Rosh HaShanah: The Significance of Being Alone

Rosh HaShanah: A Rebbe's Fear

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Through the Eyes of a Woman
A Chassidic Perspective on Living Torah

Rosh HaShanah: The Significance of Being Alone

by Nechoma Greisman, Edited by Rabbi Moshe Miller

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  Publisher's Foreword To The First EditionRosh HaShanah: A Rebbe's Fear  

Many chassidic discourses ask why we celebrate Rosh HaShanah on the first of Tishrei, when the beginning of creation, the first day of creation, was on the twenty-fifth day of Elul. The answer: because Adam was created on the sixth day of creation, corresponding to the first of Tishrei, we celebrate Rosh HaShanah on that day.

However, the question now becomes, why was Adam not created at the beginning of Creation, but rather at the end -- the last of all the creations? This is even more puzzling when we consider the statement of our Sages that Adam was the object of creation. That is, the reason HaShem created the world was not merely for the birds and the bees and the flowers, but primarily for man. The first word of the Torah, Bereishis, can be broken up into two words: Beis (two) and reishis (foremost, chief), indicating that the entire creation was for the sake of two things -- the Jewish people and the Torah (see Rashi on Bereishis 1:1).

So, if we're so important, why were we created last? Why didn't G-d create us first? The Midrash gives us the answer by way of an analogy: This is comparable to a family who invited guests for dinner. They wouldn't invite the guests into the kitchen while they're cooking, and make them wait three hours till the roast is done. Rather, they would invite them to come later when the meal has been prepared, the house is in order, and everyone is ready. Similarly, Rosh HaShanah is not celebrated as the beginning of creation, but when all the preparations have already been done.

HaShem said, "Since Adam is the object of the entire creation, I'd rather create him when all of the secondary things are ready." So He created the trees, and the fruits, and the flowers, and everything else, so that Adam would come into a perfect world, all ready to enable him to serve HaShem.

The Midrash also relates that when Adam was created even his heel (the lowest and least sensitive part of his body), outshone the sun, so holy was he. In fact, he was so full of light that all of the animals came and bowed down to him, believing that he was their creator. But Adam told them, "Come let us bow down together and worship the One Who created us all." This was his function and purpose -- to bring all of the world to the service of HaShem.

The Rebbe points out that one of the major differences between the way Adam was created and the way all the other creatures were created is this:

All of the other creatures were created in multitudes. When HaShem created bees, he created thousands, perhaps millions, of bees. When HaShem created trees, it wasn't just one little tree; immediately there were forests. Everything was created in big numbers. Like the stars: Hundreds of thousands... perhaps millions -- we don't even know how many.

However, there was one creation that was created alone -- man. He wasn't even created as a couple, just one. Why did HaShem create man as only one? He could have created a nation, thousands -- let Adam have some company, some friends; it's lonely being the only one. However, he was created all alone. Solitary. Why?

This is something that is vital for us to know. The fact the HaShem created man alone, means that every man and every woman is extremely important to Him. We should never suffer from feelings of inferiority nor feel, "Oh, I'm just one more cog in the wheel, one more flower on the wall; of what importance am I? I'm just one of several billion, or, as a Jew, one of several million." We should not, G-d forbid, think that; it is an incorrect attitude. We should know that the world started with one man. HaShem made this entire universe for one person! The same thing applies today, to each and every single Jew. Our Sages declare that a person should say, "The world was created for me!" Of course, this does not mean that the Sages encourage egocentricity. On the contrary, a Jew is the purpose of creation because he brings a revelation of G-d into the world through his Torah and mitzvos -- which is the purpose of creation. Thus, when a Jew says, "The world was created for me," he means that he recognizes his obligation to reveal G-dliness in the world -- "The world was created for me to reveal G-dliness in it." Accordingly, each person has infinite importance to HaShem, for all of creation is there for his sake!

From this we see that we should never play ourselves down. We are important, very important, in HaShem's scheme of things, for we have a great mission to live up to. We should have great self-esteem as a result. Psychologists say that the most important thing parents can do for young children, is to instill in them a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem. If a person does not have a feeling of importance, he cannot go through life productively; he has to know he is great and he is important, and has tremendous potential. That is the reason that man was created alone.

On Rosh HaShanah, when we stand before HaShem in judgment, we must realize that we were created for a specific reason -- each of us has our own individual mission. And it isn't important what's going on with everybody else. They could be living the wrong way; we have to live the right way, because every single one of us is unique and important.

  Publisher's Foreword To The First EditionRosh HaShanah: A Rebbe's Fear  
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